A trenchant analysis of the San Bernardino Sun/Riverside Press-Enterprise circulation wars from Sun cast-away Paul Oberjuerge. His post comes in response to a triumphant memo from PE Publisher and CEO Ron Redfern, celebrating his paper's circulation growth and the losses suffered by the competition.
To wit: According to the latest readership figures from the most recent Scarborough Research report for the 12-month period ending January 2007, our total weekly print audience has grown to 825,596 – a 5.5% increase in the Los Angeles DMA, the nation’s second largest metro area, spanning five counties and more than 52,000 square miles.
This is a very significant accomplishment for our team. Why? Because The Press-Enterprise is the only newspaper of the Top 5 in the L.A. DMA to post a gain in readership. All of the others lost among the other Top 5 newspapers, The Los Angeles Daily News saw a 7% drop in readership; The Orange County Register was down 4.3%; The Los Angeles Times fell 4.1%; and The Ventura County Star was down 0.3%.
During the same period, LANG’s Inland Empire Newspaper Group division -- The Sun, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and the Redlands Daily Facts -- saw a 6.9% decline in its total weekly print audience.
And what’s even more exciting, The Press-Enterprise’s weekly print audience in San Bernardino County jumped 10.4%, while The Sun’s San Bernardino County audience was down 2.1%. We also saw a 5.8% increase in its Riverside County audience.
(Read PRNewswire story here.)
I encourage you to read Oberjuerge's entire post, and pay close attention to the part where the newsroom talent flows from the Sun to the PE. Investment in talent was the key strategic move here. The PE kept a relatively large staff and paid people like grownups. As a result, the PE became the paper reporters and editors went to after gaining some experience at a LANG paper. Having been offered a PE job, I have a good idea of the salary gap.
There are other factors at play, of course, and no one is saying the PE is perfect. But you can't win a war when you're busy disarming yourself.